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Chemical Rebate Programs - Do They Fit Your Farm?

With seeding season in full swing, let’s look ahead to the upcoming time of year that everyone loves, spray season.  Every year, several new products are added to each company’s portfolio, and of course, to their rebate programs.  With so many options, how do you choose the proper chemical to use on your crops? 
Hopefully, your answer is: I thoroughly scout my fields, document what weeds are present, look up the appropriate chemicals that control these weeds, and then spray at optimal crop staging.  Your answer should NOT be: I spray whichever chemical gives me the biggest rebate.
Like them or not, chemical rebates are reality and are likely not going to fade away anytime soon.  Obviously, every chemical company is competing to gain as much market share and sales as possible.  Rebate programs are a great marketing tool, allowing companies to combine their products together to give incentives and discounts to producers.  And ultimately, they work.  Producers regularly look at these programs, as they can provide substantial savings to their farms.  However, it is very important for you to look at what’s best for your farm before spraying a certain chemical, rather than spraying just to satisfy a rebate program’s requirements.
The best place to start is by thoroughly scouting your fields.  This is the most critical requirement to knowing what chemical is required, and what product may fit your weed spectrum.  Every field is unique, and quite often will contain different weeds. 
Next, check into the products available to control the weeds that are present.  If you have easier to control weeds, you may be able get away with cheaper products, but if you have tougher to control weeds, more expensive mixtures may be required.  To ensure you’re applying what’s best for each field, consult with industry experts or the Guide to Crop Protection.  This will avoid giving blanket coverage of one chemical to your entire farm that could result in reduced or missed weed control, or chemical resistance, which could lead to bigger problems and more expensive solutions in the future.  Everyone knows when a certain weed gets out of control one year; it becomes a problem weed for years to come.  It may cost you more this year to control a certain weed spectrum; but ultimately, it may save you in future years by avoiding an outbreak.  Also make sure to check crop staging, weather conditions and tax mixes to ensure that the products you are applying are compatible and won’t harm the crop.
Finally, look at the economics and check into product price and rebate programming to see how they fit.  There are several products available that control similar weeds, and depending on where they fit into rebate programming, it may be more economical for you to choose one over another.  But make sure it fits the field’s needs. 
Chemical rebate programs have the potential to save producers substantial money off their costs of production and should be considered when choosing your products; however, they should be the FINAL consideration in choosing your chemicals, not the FIRST.  Far too often, producers choose a chemical product based solely on price and programming.  Economics is very important to everyone’s operation, but if you choose the wrong chemical, it may lead to bigger problems and more expensive “fixes” in the future.  Sometimes the cheapest option looks good initially, but does not provide the best long term solution.  So be cautious of the products you are using, and ensure they`re a good fit.  Do what’s right for your farm, and if you end up qualifying for additional savings through a rebate program, consider it a bonus.
For more information and farm management help, contact a Business Management Specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

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